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What This Magician Can Teach You About Creativity, Drive, and Success

What This Magician Can Teach You About Creativity, Drive, and Success

By Jason Fell for Entrepreneur…

When I ask Justin Willman how he got started in magic, he tells me it all began at 12 years old after borrowing money from a bookie. When he didn’t pay it back on time, the guy broke both of his arms and sent him to the hospital.

One thing is for certain: Willman is an entertainer.

The real story, it turns out, is slightly less dramatic. When he was 12, Willman attempted riding his bike while wearing roller blades. The bright idea did result in two broken arms. His doctor suggested he practice card tricks to help get the dexterity in his hands back. It worked, and by the time the casts were removed, the seed was planted and Willman knew he wanted to be a magician.

Since moving to Los Angeles in 2002, Willman has been busy pursuing a career in entertainment fulltime. He’s been a regular guest on The Tonight ShowEllen, and Conan. He landed a special on Comedy Network called Sleight of Mouth and hosted the Food Network show Cupcake Wars. His online videos have logged more than a 100 million views.

You might also recognize Willman as the star of Magic for Humans on Netflix. With the second season of the show dropping on Netflix today, we caught up with Willman to talk about what drives his creativity, how he views entrepreneurship, and how he defines success. What follows has been edited lightly for length and clarity.  READ MORE

Zen Magic with Iain Moran – A Review

Zen Magic with Iain Moran – A Review

ZEN MAGIC – A Review
Zen Magic with Iain Moran – Magic With Cards and Coins..

Iain Moran’s ZEN MAGIC is a collection of absolute barns storming close-up effects – 10 routines (eight card tricks and two of Iain’s signature coin routines) – and each is a SOLID GOLD winner. Indeed, each one could have been a best-selling single trick release. Iain has truly honed and perfected each one into a tour-de-force of magical jujitsu.

Perfectly constructed for maximum impact and pure magical content, Iain also prioritizes a ‘belt & braces’ approach to handling. With the practiced hand of a man who performs professionally day in, day out, these tricks are built to WORK.

Counting on Them: Imagine performing a trick that fools everyone, and then explaining how to do it…and then leaving them even more fooled than before!

Magician’s Nephew: You and your spectator both choose cards, and lose them back in the deck, and then, astonishingly, find each other’s cards!

Thanks to Lance, John and Dave: A signed card vanishes and appears back in your pocket, time and time again, before the kicker that they never see coming!

Quantum Sandwich 2.0: A baffling double sandwich routine, with a signed card, then finishes with a visual and shocking kickback! Brains will fizz!

TUC3: Fast and furious is the vibe for this unrelenting coin routine, with productions, transpositions and vanishes that will leave them reeling!

Easy To Find: A super-clean sandwich style effect with a dash of mentalism to finish them off!

Fifty Some: A double whammy that you can build into any card box! First a chosen card appears inside, and then a prediction impossibly appears on the case – and it’s examinable!

Prime Importance: A visual shocker where a blank card visibly prints into a selection, first the back design, and then the face, and then finally the signature!! This is a keeper!

Silver Sequence: Another coin routine that will leave you spectators picking their jaws from the floor!

Picking Pockets: Easily the most astonishing version of the ‘Interchange’ plot ever conceived. Four jacks, isolated in four different pockets, slowly and cleanly change places with four signed aces, which are then removed from the pockets the jacks had been in! KILLER!

And, you’ll also learn these utterly indispensable sleights:

Convincing Control
Ackerman Varies Kelly
JK Hartman RS Bluff Control
Underspread Force
Gary Kurtz Slip-Cut Force

My Thoughts..

There are average videos teaching card and coin magic.. and there are very good videos teaching card and coin magic. Zen Magic is one of the best I’ve reviewed in 2019. I’ve reviewed so many videos full of self working card tricks it was quite a pleasure to watch something more challenging.

Iain is a very good teacher and thinker, and offers up a nice cross section of effects and sleights. Some will be more challenging than others, naturally, but there are NO complicated sleights. He uses a variety of picking, kicking, culling, top controls, bottom controls, double undercuts, spread forces.. and a fair amount of pocket work and post-predictions to keep the effects both enticing and within range of what I would call advanced beginners to intermediates. There are a few sleights that are specific to a certain effect.. but Iain includes a section at the end of the video to teach these specific moves. Again, nothing is outside the range I mentioned.

I wish I could say..” Oh, you’ll use this and you’ll use that..”, but I can’t. We are all different and have our own likes and dislikes. I catch myself reviewing videos and saying.. ” You’ll love this effect”, or “This one wasn’t my favorite..”.. and when I read reviews of the same videos by others.. they make me realize our vast differences. ( One thing I NEVER do is read a review of an item I’m reviewing before I write my review..)

I think the one thing we can all agree on is whether the video is full of strong, usable material.. and Zen Magic IS full of strong material. I couldn’t find a single ‘filler’ in the bunch. Sometimes I want to.. it gives me a chance to draw distinctions.. but not in this one.

I do know anyone with a serious interest in card magic will find effects that’ll go in their repertoire. Which ones.. I don’t know. I have my favorites.. for sure, but I would encourage you to buy Zen Magic and watch every minute of it and see what fits you..

In fair disclosure.. there are several effects that use either a stack of some sort, or gaffed cards. Not all effects, but enough I should bring it to your attention. This goes back to what I meant when I said we all have differing preferences. Some folks don’t like stacks. Others appreciate the advantage a stack offers. Same with gaffs. So, I’m just making you aware of something that’s NOT a problem for me.. and something that doesn’t taint my review.

Iain and BigBlindMedia has done a good job with their descriptions, and I can’t add much to many of the effects.. but.. I will try to be a little more specific as to sleights and gaffs.. without giving anything away..

Counting On Them.. Paul Cummings, John Carey and Karl Hein..
Basically, the spec selects a card and picks a number. After a lite bit of handling, a packet of cards matching the picked number is dropped from the center of the deck.. and the selected card is found at the picked number. A little complex but worth the effort. Oh, did I mention a Joker with the spectator’s number and selected card is tossed from the performers pocket to end the effect?

Magician’s Nephew.. Darwin Ortiz, Al Koran, and Sean Carpenter. Uses a memorized deck. The magician picks a card.. then the spec picks a card. The deck is cut. The magician takes the top card and places it in his pocket. The spec cuts the deck and places the top card in their pocket. After a little patter the magician’s pocketed card is revealed to be the specs and the specs card is revealed to be the magicians.

Thanks to Lance, John, and Dave.. Francis Carlyle, Lance Pierce, John Carey and David Williamson. A spec selects and signs a number card. The card is placed in a packet of four Kings. After a little byplay, the card is shown to have vanished from the packet.. and traveled to the magicians pocket. Now, a series of misadventures occurs as the signed card appears, vanishes again, is found by the spectator, supposedly, and finally the finale reveals the entire deck, except for on card.. has travelled to the magicians pocked.

Quantum Sandwich 2.0.. Karl Hein, Eric Anderson and Mike Gallo. A slightly complex sandwich effect with a couple of Kings and a chosen card. This will take a little practice, or should… I suspect you will either love this effect.. or avoid it. It’s good, it’s strong, and it’s a great effect for sandwich lovers…

TUC 3 .. Marcelo Insula, Troy Hooser, Gary Jones and Reed McClintock.
Coin production and vanish with Tango Ultimate Coins in Eisenhower dollar size. One of the ungaffed coins is gaffed (?) with a small magnet by Iain. Although not overly complicated.. it’s a confounding effect for a lay audience. I know all about the argument over gaffs/no gaffs, but I do like these Tango Coins.

Easy To Find.. Uses two Jokers. They catch a selected card in the middle of the deck, very fairly. One of several effects that uses a end-of-trick prediction to show you knew in advance the identity of the chosen card.

Fifty Some.. Jason Dean, JK Hartman.. Basically, a card to card box.. but very tricky. Uses a homemade gaff card but not necessary to perform the trick. One of my favorites. Could be commercial.

Prime Importance.. Aldo Colombini, Roy Walton.. A printing press type effect with seemingly blank cards turning into a chosen card. Needs a couple of blank cards and one blank backed card. Short and sweet. Ideal for walk around as its very visual and happens mostly in the hand.

Silver Sequence.. Homer Liwag, Gary Jones, R Paul Wilson, Gary Kurtz, Jonathan Townsend and Chris Kenner. Nice coin effect with American Silver dollars. Lots of flights and vanishes. Three regular coins and a shell are used.

Picking Pockets.. David Solomon, Jerry Sadowitz, Gary Kurtz and Ed Marlo… Eight card packet trick, using twelve cards, with a couple of gaffed cards you can create yourself.. (roughing fluid) and a double facer. Very confounding trick for those who love to look like a real shark. Your audience has no choice but to assume you are a true master of the pasteboards. Probably the most complicated of all the effects, but a guaranteed magician fooler.

Picking Pockets – No Gaffs. Similar to above except gaff-less. Elmsley Count and a Buckle Count or two eliminate the gaffs.

These sleights are taught in detail and add considerable value to the video.. me thinks.

– Marlo’s Convincing Control.. Ideal method of apparently placing a card in the middle of the deck, but secretly bringing it to the bottom. From there, take it wherever you want..

– Ackerman Varies Kelly.. Dribble the cards, allowing the spec to say ‘stop’. Show the card. Perform the equivalent of a second deal.. except from the middle of the deck.. carrying the viewed card to the bottom and visibly leaving the second card protruding from the middle.. to be slowly pushed into the middle… representing the selection.

– JK Hartman Bluff Control.. Another convincing method of substituting a selection with a second card. One of my personal favorites.

– Underspread Force.. Secretly take any card touched by the spectator to the bottom of the deck.. to be controlled to wherever you need it.

– Gary Kurtz Slip Cut Force.. The slip cut can be a very sloppy way of getting a card from point A to point B.. unless you know and use the proper handling. Gary Kurtz handling is the real thing and provides proper cover for the selected card.. and NO snap..

Zen Magic is produced by BigBlindMedia and fits nicely among all their work as far as quality and sound. I appreciate that I always know what I’m getting with their productions. Not sure about the time of the DVD. I couldn’t find the time listed anywhere and the DVD itself is divided into individual segments. It’s at least as long as typical DVDs of this type. I do feel the total time should be printed somewhere. I do know some of the dealers offer Zen Magic as either a DVD -or- a download. It’s the same price either way.. so pick your poison.

Zen Magic is a considerable collection of card tricks, with a couple of coin effects to pace the action. These are NOT self-working effects, and are created for magicians who enjoy fooling an audience -and- entertaining a table of magicians. Closing kickers on a number of effects add a level of sophistication magicians welcome.

$25.00.. From Murphy’s Magic and dealers who carry their line of products..

Review by Rick Carruth for the Magic Roadshow.

Sven Pro Deck – Invictus Magic – A Review

Sven Pro Deck – Invictus Magic – A Review

SVEN PRO Deck –  Invictus Magic – A Review

Suit&Tie Magic kicks off their world-wide product debut by perfecting a classic in card magic! Presenting the Sven Pro! The gimmicked deck like you’ve never seen it before!

It’s difficult to reinvent a classic–especially one as solid as the Svengali deck–but teaming up with Invictus Magic, Suit&Tie has done it! Delivering the world’s smallest cut (to date) in this type of deck!

Expertly crafted with the working magician in mind, these cards are precision-cut to bring magicians the Svengali deck the way it was meant to be made.

Suitable for beginners and professionals alike, these decks boast the best handling on the market! … And did we mention that they handle sideways, too?!


– Professional-grade Svengali deck
– Full step-by-step instructions, from the very basic handlings to advanced routines
– Mind Reading Effect
– Prediction Effect
– Card to Impossible Location
– Ambitious Card with Variations
– Acaan
– Svenwich
– Finger Tip Change (Our Favorite)

My Thoughts:

I’ve been a fan of Svengali decks since… a long time ago. I’m sure many of you bought one near the beginning of your careers, played with it for a while, and then let it slide to the bottom of your junk drawer. I think now one of the main reasons for that happening is we realized you had to perform magic with Bicycle decks, probably rider backs, and these Svengali decks, bridge sized and cheaply made, didn’t fit the bill. I know that was my case.

That said.. I have bought a Bicycle brand Svengali deck or two through the years and, although they felt much better than my earlier decks, I still relegated them to someplace outside my happy place.. ne’er to be used in actual performances.

That’s sad… because the concept is a good one, and you would think someone, somewhere, would create a solid Svengali deck.. one knowledgeable magicians would actually want to use.

SVEN PRO, by Invictus Magic, is THAT deck. Seriously..

Magicians are a picky bunch. There are always a few though who lead the way, and dictate what the majority wants.. or thinks they want. I wish one of the influencers would push the Svengali deck as the next great advent in magic, but it’s not going to happen. What IS going to happen though.. is.. a smart, talented group of performers will buy this deck, master an array of effects not possible with conventional decks, and fool the dickens out of magicians and lay folks alike who do not understand the possibilities of this classic deck.

One of the reasons for this is the care and skill that goes into creating each deck of Sven Pro. Unlike the older decks we’re accustomed to, Suit& Tie Magic, the developers, carefully cut each short card thinner than traditional cards.. and then rounded the edges to make them match the ungaffed cards. When aligned in a deck, you cannot notice the different lengths… at least not during normal use and typical handling.

The other reason, aside from the micro-cut of the short side of the card, is the micro-cut of the LONG side of the gaff cards. Imagine being able to cut the deck from the top OR the side. Imagine being able to dribble the cards. Imagine being able to riffle shuffle the cards or let the spectator freely cut the cards, from any angle. Now your repertoire is greatly enhanced, and one of the major drawbacks of ‘conventional’ svengali decks, the awkward handling, has been eliminated.

Before writing this review I spent about a week informally handling the Sven Pro deck. I sat in my favorite chair and cut, and cut, and cut.. top cuts and side cuts, to see if the shorter cuts affected the outcome. It didn’t. I fanned them, spread them, riffled them and dribbled them.. looking to find that weak point that made a liar out of the ad copy. Again… I didn’t. What can I say?

The one drawback of the svengali deck has always been that it could not be freely examined. I think that one fact alone prevents more magicians from using it than any other. Suit & Tie Magic includes a twenty-five minute instructional video with each deck that includes careful instructions for fanning, shuffling, and spreading the deck to prevent the spectator from feeling a need to manhandle the deck. The video is posted on the Invictus site and you do not have to download it. The url is provided inside the deck packaging wrapper. You won’t learn everything you need to know.. but you WILL learn enough to whet your appetite and send you on a little search for more in-depth info. Now would be a good time to go to Google and search for ‘svengali deck tutorial’ and you should find a couple of good instructional videos. (Magic Makers and Daryl have both made in-depth videos solely teaching effects with svengali decks..)

The instructions are good, considering the overall cost of Sven Pro is less than twenty dollars. Remember, this is a deck that has to be created by hand in a very time-consuming way. I have NO problems with the price, the deck itself, or the quality of the instructions. All effects are taught by Brandon Williams, a very likable and talented guy, and I appreciated the extra efforts put into the video instructions. They didn’t have to.. but they did.. so there…

I want to make one suggestion of my own… Find ways to incorporate the svengali deck into routines with standard decks. You don’t have to pull a hidden deck switch; keep it all out in the open. I usually have three decks on the table when I perform, if space allows, and I’ll tell anyone asking ‘why’ that each deck handles differently and I want to be as professional as possible. Each deck DOES handle differently, so I can say that with confidence.

I will use this deck. I will find ways to incorporate it into routines with conventional decks. I will surprise a few nimble minds who should know better, and I’ll leave them confounded.. and I ain’t telling them nothing… This Svengali Pro thing.. it’s going to be my little secret.

$19.95 From Murphy’s Magic and Dealers who carry their line of products.

Review by Rick Carruth